Address by Nelson Mandela at a cultural dinner in Midrand

7 April 1994

Thank you for the invitation to be with you this evening.

Being here tonight with part of the Greek, Spanish, Australian, Chinese and Indian communities demonstrates the rich diversity of our country's people.

We truly have many cultures, yet we are one nation. We are truly diverse, yet we are bound together in a common destiny in the southern part of Africa. We are all South Africans.

I want you to know, if you don't know it already, that we live in the most beautiful country in the world. And you have a home here, together with all other South Africans. I know our country has been going through some difficult times in the last few weeks.

I know that many South Africans are concerned about:

  • where we are going
  • what the future holds
  • the violence and the elections

I want to spend a few moments on the present and the future.

I want you to enjoy your meal. But I want you leave this gathering reassured that the ANC, that I as president, am determined to tackle the problems we have.

I will ensure that:

  • South Africa achieves peace.
  • South Africa has a place for everyone.

South Africa wants you to contribute to make us a nation respected and revered around the world.

There is a dictum which says:

"You cannot discover new oceans, unless you are willing to lose sight of the shore."

As we move to a new SA, there is uncertainty and concern for the future.

But as the saying goes: "You cannot discover new opportunities and greater security, if you continue to long for the past."

I want to put the record straight on a few things.

Daily people are dying in this country in violence and crime. I deplore violence and the loss of life.

I believe all South Africans, regardless of party or affiliations should mourn these deaths.

The ANC knows that we have a special responsibility and duty to our country.

We have, and are prepared, to assume responsibility and to deal with violence and crime irrespective of which quarter it may come from.

The time has come for finger pointing and blame to stop. Everyone must assume responsibility.

I assure you the ANC is doing everything possible to bring peace and a better life for all in our country.

For this reason we have supported the State of Emergency in Natal.

It has one purpose only:

  • To protect life and property.
  • To allow people to exercise their democratic right to participate in the coming elections in Natal.

The ANC has worked fervently to bring peace, justice and a better life for all. In these times do not be despondent. Do not lose hope. Do not let the fact that you cannot see the shore make you want to abandon the journey to a better life, and better security for you and your family. In these times:

  • we need to stand together.
  • we need to work together.

The ANC is committed to protecting language, religious and cultural rights. We have protected this in the constitution. But we believe that our cultural diversity should be a source of strength, and not division as in the past.

I have spent 27 years in jail. Others like Chris Hani, a family man, have paid the supreme price, so that all of us can have a better life.

Our country holds great promise. Our country holds great opportunities. Our country will be the symbol of hope for the rest of Africa and the world. In these times we need to be firm and steady as we take our country through the stormy waters.

I have travelled the length and breadth of this country, met people, spoken to children, the aged, everyone I could touch or see.

Everyone seeks peace. Everyone seeks a better life. Everyone wants to work together.

I have 20 grandchildren. When I speak to them, I listen to their hopes, their fears, their dreams. I know what my duty is to them and to all the children of South Africa.

Let me assure you, we are doing our best. With your support and wisdom we can do even better. South Africa is for all of us. Together we can make it a safe and secure country for its people and children.

God Bless You.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation